In today’s pandemic-hit world, virtual learning environments (VLEs) are irreversibly shaping the way of learning and teaching at universities. VLE has become increasingly popular as universities across the globe recognize its advantages when applied in online teaching/ learning.
However, this also means introducing innovative ways and techniques that could recreate as much of the in-person learning experience as possible in virtual learning environments.
This blog explores more about the benefits of this concept and how universities can create a robust virtual learning environment for continuous learning.
What is a virtual learning environment? What are its benefits?
A virtual learning environment (VLE) is primarily an online medium used for teaching & learning. An excellent virtual learning environment can offer instructors and students the following advantages-
- A completely flexible approach to timings and access to learning
- Makes learning scalable, covering large geographical areas with ease
- Offers tools to account for varying skill levels and abilities
- Provides resilience against difficult circumstances such as COVID-19, which make face-to-face learning impossible
6 ways universities can create a meaningful virtual learning environment
For online learning to succeed at the university level, it is imperative to consider the virtual learning environment or setting in which the student is engaged. Here are some of the ways universities can create a successful virtual learning environment –
1. Choosing the right technology
Many excellent software solutions are available in the market today to help you kickstart your virtual learning journey. However, you need to make sure that you’re choosing the right one for your university. Here are some of the things that you need to look out-
- Go for an easy-to-use system as your VLE is likely to be used by both staff and students, spanning across ages and learning abilities. Hence, finding something flexible enough to cater to everyone is essential.
- Pick a system that corresponds with multiple learning styles and every qualification your university offers to help keep student learning on track.
- Source a system that seamlessly integrates with the university’s MIS system and shares information effortlessly across multiple platforms.
Apart from these, the universities need to remember that the best VLEs have a personal touch, including synchronous online time with a mentor, actual teacher/facilitator in the room, or real-time chats with peers. Overall, one of the key indicators of the effectiveness of a VLE is seamless collaboration.
2. Opting for flexible content-upload options
Universities need to prioritize enhancing student engagement as one of their key considerations when creating a robust virtual learning environment. This means having the option to upload a wide array of multimedia content, including images, videos, interactive quizzes, and online presentations, onto the learning platform.
This allows universities to broaden their options for the future and makes it easier to cater to a much wider audience by accounting for varied learning styles.
3. Designing engaging activities
Adapting the in-class teaching tools to the virtual learning environment calls for a great deal of creativity and understanding of the technologies being used. A range of virtual tools is being used today with functions that enable instructors to create a quick poll, create groups, and share a whiteboard.
However, it is important to remember that these activities should relate directly to the student’s interests, and students should see them as challenging and fun.
4. Adding new and innovative learning experiences
To create a robust virtual learning environment, universities need to add new and innovative functionality to the online learning experience that makes it more interactive and engaging for students.
For instance, the instructors can incorporate various virtual reality games to make learning more interactive yet fun for learners. Another way is to include relevant channels that resonate with learners, such as social media.
When creating a VLE, institutions also need to keep an eye on the future. The need is to adopt a flexible and interoperable learning platform that allows for easy expansion and integration of innovative technologies as and when they arrive, allowing universities to scale their training programs for years to come.
5. Tracking student progress
It is of utmost importance for universities and higher-ed institutions to remain on top of the students’ progress to ensure that every student reaches their full potential. However, this can get overwhelmingly challenging, especially when much of the learning today takes place online.
To navigate this effectively, universities need to either use an efficient LMS or a content delivery platform that can provide an in-depth analysis of user performance.
6. Focusing on connection
The fact that online learning will continue for the foreseeable future requires higher-ed institutions to create a comprehensive virtual learning environment. This means that the virtual classroom setting must be enhanced with varied activities and communication channels that help engage, communicate and connect with students.
By including different visual aids and adding various fun and relevant learning activities, institutions can create a successful virtual learning environment.
Virtual learning environments are a relatively new experience for both students and educators. To see success in creating these, universities need to develop creative ways of making learning engaging and educational at the same time. The abovementioned practices allow higher education institutions to create an impactful, productive, dynamic, and fun virtual learning environment for their students.
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